Analyzing a Visual Text for Messages about Gender and/or Racial Identity

Learning Goal: I’m working on a english practice test / quiz and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

My professor assigned the instructions as followed:


Write a paper in which you engage in a close textual analysis of a visual

text such as a TV series, film, music video, political ad or series of

ads, commercial advertisement, etc.

The purpose of your close textual analysis is to develop a paper that

thoroughly answers this question:

What messages or ideas about gender or racial/ethnic identity are

embedded within this text beyond the most obvious stated, intended


For the purposes of this assignment, we are referring to these visual media

as “visual texts” so as to emphasize that it is necessary to “read into” them

in order to develop an intelligent, original analysis. Quite often, when a

writer/producer/artist/etc. creates something, they embed ideas within it

beyond the most obvious elements of the text. These ideas are sometimes

intentionally placed so as to add more complex or nuanced meaning.

 In some cases, these messages/ideas are intentionally placed so as

to provoke thought by the viewer.

 In some situations, the creator did not necessarily intend for an

implied message/idea to be displayed, but they unconsciously

included something that reflects messages/ideas they take for

granted or those that are held by many within the society.

To engage in a true close textual analysis, you must be able to find

these sub-textual messages within the visual text chosen. In other words,

you are looking for meaning that is not directly stated. It may be somewhat

“hidden” or might be only implied.

To help you get started in your analysis, look for details within the plot, the

portrayal of characters, dialogue, sound and visual cues, and/or even

framing preferences that might send messages about gender.

For this assignment, add additional research beyond viewing your

chosen visual text itself and reading.

You must develop your paper based on your own ideas and

observations (informed by the readings, text, visuals and class

discussions) and support your analysis of the visual text. Therefore, you

should choose a visual text about which you feel you can develop an

intelligent analysis.

Since this is an analysis of a visual text and you are required to

include some info from one of the assigned essays, you will need to

properly cite both your primary source (the visual text) and the

secondary sources in order to avoid plagiarism. Therefore, make sure

your review the Blackboard Tutorials on avoiding plagiarism and MLA

citation style discussed in class in order to prepare for this paper


This paper is not asking for a review of your chosen text (i.e. whether you

like it or not). Instead, stay focused on the analysis in terms of the

messages it sends about gender or racial identity. Beyond the

introductory paragraph, do not spend time summarizing the visual text

you’ve chosen. Focus instead on making a clear set of points regarding

the messages about gender/race being sent within your chosen text.

Key Requirements:

 You must develop your paper based on your own ideas and

observations (informed by the readings and class discussions) and

use one of the assigned essays from Rereading America to support

your analysis of the visual text.

 This paper must adhere to MLA style guidelines. Information

about this style guide and your academic pathway is listed on the


 You will need to properly cite both your primary source (the

visual text) and the secondary source (the essay) in order to

avoid plagiarism.

 This paper must be at least 1500 words long plus a Works Cited

page with at least 3 sources of reference. This generally equals at

least 3 complete pages. If you do not meet the minimum length

requirement, you will not earn a passing grade on the paper.

That is all. Let me know if you have any question.

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